Monthly Archives: April 2021

The Keeper of Piedmont

Most kids are introduced to sports at a young age. Whether they stick with it or not typically depends on their love of the sport, as well as their skill level and dedication growing with them. According to some statistics, many kids stop playing sports between 11 and 13, as they lose their love of the game. However, for senior mass communications major Cameron Verona, this is the age when he fell in love with the sport he grew up playing, soccer. 

Verona started playing soccer when he was 3. His dad was the person that kicks started his love for the sport, taking him to play in the neighborhood.

“My dad and I, when I was 3 years old, used to always go out into the cul-de-sac of the unfinished houses in our neighborhood and we would play soccer 3v3,” said Verona. “I would get beaten every time. I would come home crying and slamming things around my house.” 

These 3v3 games helped shape Verona’s competitive drive and made him want to take his skill to the next level. When he started playing soccer on a real team at age 5, he was a forward, where he continued to play until he was put in as goalie about four years later. This is where Verona found his true passion as a soccer player. 

“I was never playing at a level that was top-flight until I was a junior in high school,” said Verona. “I got my shot and worked for it and it helped me get into college.” 

Verona played at Reinhardt University for his freshman year in college before transferring to Piedmont University to get more time in goal, and this is where his career as a keeper gained traction. 

“He’s always been one of the best keepers I’ve played with,” said Ian Addison, a senior defender for the Lions. “He’s easily one of the most dedicated soccer players I’ve ever met.” 

Addison and Verona have known each other long before their collegiate careers. Having played together for about six years, Addison has seen how Verona has grown as a player and person over the years. 

“He takes it very personally when he gets scored on or when it comes to working hard,” said Addison. “He’s super passionate about it, which I love, and he’s only progressed further with every year that he plays.” 

Verona has the determination and competitiveness to hold his own in the goal, but it’s his focus on improvement that makes him one of the best goalkeepers in the conference. In 2021, Verona led all USA South goalkeepers with 69 saves and finished second with an .802 save percentage. His 69 saves also ranked him fourth overall in NCAA Division III

“Verona has only gotten better since he’s gotten here,” said senior sports communication major Davis Barlow. 

Barlow has been a Piedmont University go-to sports reporter, so he has yet to miss a single home game in the three years Verona has been playing for the university. 

“He put in some great work this year and really held down that young backline,” said Barlow. “There were a lot of freshmen on the field and he did a great job leading them not only on the field but off the field as well. He wants to continue to play at the next level, and with his drive and heart he can.” 

With roughly four weeks left until graduation, there were a lot of questions being thrown at Verona about what he wanted to do with his life. 

“It’s never wavered for me,” said Verona. “I’ve always been sure that this is what I wanted to do with my life. It’s been a dream of mine since I was little.” 

Cameron Verona has signed to play with East Atlanta, a semipro soccer team, starting this summer. His goal is to ultimately play soccer on a professional level, and with his skill, determination, and drive, that goal is pretty much in the bag. 

You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid

When in high school, many people say they want to go into film because they have no idea what they want, and at the time it seemed like a good idea. By the time they go to college, most of these people can figure out this isn’t their dream and tend to do something different. That was not the case for Junior Mass Communications major Caleb Rogers. 

“I’d like to think of myself as a creative person, and film is an outlet for that,” said Rogers. “I started taking summer art courses when I was 5-years old so I grew up around the arts. I love movies and found an interest in how they were made.” 

Rogers was adopted from Shakhty, Russia when he was 6 months old and lived in Richmond, Virginia for 11 years before moving to Clarksville, Georgia where he currently lives with his parents and brother. 

As a child, Rogers had a huge love for movies and would always watch behind-the-scenes and production clips to see how they were made. He spent his years in high school building up his portfolio for college and helped build the art department at his school. 

“In 2017 I went to SCAD with a $25,000 scholarship and made the best of my time there,” said Rogers. “I had the wonderful opportunity to work on several student films, SCADS Emmy award-winning live shows, and my favorite was working as media at the Savannah film festival interviewing celebrities like Hugh Jackman, John Krasinski, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Armie Hammer.” 

Rogers has also spent plenty of time working on music videos and this May he will be working on his biggest project yet, “Shazam 2” as the assistant Visual Effects Coordinator. 

Rogers has been seriously working in the film industry for about two and a half years now and he shows no sign of slowing down.

“I want to continue my knowledge in film to later have my own business to make a fortune,” he said. 

Senior Mass Communications major, Cameron Verona, also has a big interest in film and finds Rogers’ work inspiring. 

“I respect and value the quality of his work,” said Verona. “I think his high profile experience in the industry can help grow the already phenomenal program we have at Piedmont.”

Rogers has been a huge part in building the film program here at Piedmont. Having a mass communications degree could only take him so far when it came to the film industry, so he has been trying to push the idea of a film major for a while now. 

“With the love I have for film I believed I could help push Piedmont to create a film studies program,” Rogers said. “I first had a meeting with Dean [Steve] Nimmo then with [Vice President] Dan Silber as well as [Department Chair] Joe Dennis and from that point on we four had several meetings figuring out how we can make this work and what the curriculum would look like.” 

Caleb Rogers still has a lot to learn in regards to working full time in the film industry, however, with the start he has now and the skills he is willing to pass along to others around him, he is going to go far. 

Piedmont Dating App: Good or Bad?

Could a dating app for Piedmont students be beneficial? Carter Ballstadt and Cameron Earls think it might be a good idea.

The two business students presented their research, “Solving the Dating Problem” at this year’s Piedmont symposium.

“I think the preferences are a big thing when it comes to matchmaking, and if you don’t prefer something you won’t enjoy it when dating,” said Carter Ballstadt.

Ballstadt, like any person, has a preference on who he dates. Many dating apps don’t let users choose a preference of the traits they like about a person. That’s why these two students proposed a Piedmont dating app to match students who have things in common.

“We used a decomposition and abstraction to create an algorithm over them to increase the matches between the students here,” said Cameron Earls.

They used preferences for the decomposition, for example what genders you’re interested in, age and the age range you’re interested in. For the abstraction they used the amount of effort you put into a relationship. The preferences are what you prefer and what you enjoy doing, like your hobbies and interests. 

Other dating apps like Tinder use algorithms by collecting data from each user and mainly focus on their quantity of matches. With the Piedmont dating app, they would focus more on quality of the match, so you could have a longer and lasting relationship. 

“We would have a free setup for the app, as well as a premium account which would cost a little extra,” said Earls.

Like any other app they offer a free account which you can use to get matches, but you don’t get everything offered on the app. They would have other features on the app that would cost some money to get it extra. 

“What you look for in someone with free time and what they’re doing in life is very important,” said Ballstadt, adding that their target audience is for people looking for quality relationships, rather than simply several matches.

“They did a good job, and I thought their idea was very interesting,” said Kim Lovell, professor of business.

Schramm’s Epiphany to not Watch Life Pass by him

“I’ll start off by saying I 100 percent believe I got cancer for a reason,” said sophomore Zack Schramm.

On June 1, Schramm was given news that nobody wants to hear, a diagnosis of testicular cancer. Uncertain of causes, it took a large amount of mental toughness to get through this kind of milestone. With the major motivation being his mom, Schramm soon realized he had to do whatever it took to be there for his mom. For any mother, your child going through such an obstacle as cancer is living in a nightmare.

“My mom was so distraught knowing her 19-year-old son had cancer. Most of the doctors’ appointments was me picking my mom up,” said Schramm.

It is difficult to understand the process that cancer puts an individual through — the physical and mental pain is indescribable, though Schramm found a light in this process. With hours sitting in the chemotherapy chair, anyone’s mind will wander. The thought was always in the back of Schramm’s head that it is possible he may not make it through this, for with this, the epiphany arose to Schramm that he has not lived his life the way he wants to.

Many can testify to this. People often say they want to do many extravagant things in their lives, but never actually act upon the things that they want to do. In this case, Schramm realized he had been a victim of this and found himself taking advantage of even the simplest opportunities to experience life.

“I saw a quote that made me really think about how I have lived my life up until the diagnosis. I realized I had not been living life they way I should be living,” said Schramm.

“I had not done or experienced all the things I talked about. The quote basically gave me the idea that I have wasted nineteen years of my life and that I need to capitalize on every opportunity that I am given, big or small.”

The quote was the words of Confucius, “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

It takes an immense amount of thinking to understand this quote, but once it is understood, you wonder what life you are in. To sum up what this quote represents in Schramm’s life, Schramm’s first life was his first 19 years. His second life began when he realized life can be taken from him at any second.

For any person, having cancer would break them to pieces. It could become another “feel sorry for me story,” but Schramm looked at this with a different set of eyes. A set of eyes that bettered him and his family. A different mindset that changed Schramm forever. The epiphany Schramm had because of this milestone is one of the best things that could have ever happened to him.

“Without having to go through what I did, I would still be waiting for life to come to me. Now I am taking on life with no fear or care in the world,” said Schramm.

Kirks Mentality of Hard Work

948 minutes played for the 2021 season of Piedmont University’s Women’s Soccer program. Earning the starting spot as an attacking midfielder for four years, senior and captain Cassie Kirk holds a very strong physical and mental glue for the program. More importantly, soccer has been a major glue for Kirk within her life.

Being one of the largest influences and impacts for the women’s soccer program, Kirk has earned USA South first-team-All-Conference in 2019 and 2020. In 2018, Kirk earned the USA South All-Tournament Team. Clearly, Kirk holds a major role on the field as a player for the Lions.

Kirk started her soccer career at age 4, not knowing the love and lessons she would encounter along the way. To Kirk, soccer was not just a portion of her life, it has always been the largest part of her life, soccer has consumed her life in every way. Graduating in the spring, soccer will soon be just another time to share and reflect on stories for Kirk.

“Growing up soccer was sort of my identity,” said Kirk. “I have just recently been accepted into medical school and have applied for a few jobs. It is becoming very surreal that soccer will not be the biggest part of me anymore.”

With soccer being one of the major personality traits Kirk holds, she has found that soccer has helped her through many battles on and off the field. Most importantly, Kirk learned being the best will not always be what will win in the end.

“Cassie is one of the hardest working players I think I have ever coached,” said Piedmont head women’s soccer coach, Timmy McCormack. “She loses the ball, she will not give 100% to win the ball back, she will give 200% to get the ball back. Her work ethic on the field definitely

translates to the rest of the team. I could argue that her work ethic was the reason all of her teammates voted her captain.”

For example, in 2019 the women’s soccer team was ranked first and expected to win the conference championship. Knowing that the team was better than its opponent, Salem College, Salem had higher work ethic. Even since the opponent of Piedmont was ranked much lower, the want to win was greater.

“As cliché as it is, the saying that hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard is something I have learned because of soccer,” said Kirk. “I have been the more talented team who has lost, and I’ve been the underdog who worked way harder than the other time to win. But, I think this is really important to take into life outside of soccer because I have worked very hard to earn the opportunities I have, my work ethic is definitely giving me the opportunities such as multiple job offers.”

Without playing soccer for 18 years, Kirk would never have learned valuable lessons that will aid her in life after college. Being the hardest worker on the field directly links to the close to a 1,000 minutes earned in each season, starting in nearly every game for four years straight, and many honors awarded to her.

“Soccer has taught me that I do not have to be the biggest, strongest, or most skilled,” said Kirk. “In life I do not have to be the smartest, most experienced, or most skilled. I just have to out work everyone around me to be the best.”

Justus for all

Like any young female soccer fanatic, Olivia Justus grew up idolizing the U.S. women’s soccer team. She fell in love with the game and soon began playing it. Soccer gave Justus, a senior mass communications major at Piedmont University, an outlet to relieve anger. 

“If I had a bad day or I was mad at something, I would just go out there and play and take my anger out of the field,” Justus said. 

Justus grew up dreaming of playing for the U.S. women’s soccer team. While playing soccer, Justus showed signs of promise. She started playing at Habersham Central High School and attracted interest from colleges. But that interest would not last long as she suffered a meniscus injury that would sideline her for the rest of her senior season. While working back from her surgery to hopefully play for her senior night, Justus reached out to Piedmont College’s head women’s soccer coach Timmy McCormack to see if she could walk on. 

“It was a humbling feeling to be able to walk on,” Justus said. “I went to a [recruiting] camp for Piedmont a week after I was cleared. I was ecstatic.” 

Three years after joining the Piedmont women’s soccer team, Justus had to make one of the hardest decisions of her life. Trying to balance soccer, school and work started to seem impossible. She was working six days a week and taking 18 credit hours. When she noticed her grades were starting to fall, Justus knew she needed to make a change. Over winter break she quit soccer, ending her playing career. 

“I was devastated, but I knew it was what was best for me in the long run,” Justus said. 

She saw her grades start to improve, and had more free time to do what she wanted. She even started a new job that paid more, but without the daily grind of soccer, something was off.

She found herself slipping once again. She left her job to focus strictly on school and herself, and found time for the gym. 

“Mental health is important,” Justus said. “Nothing should ever compromise self-love and self-care.” 

Justus has been doing things that she now enjoys. She gets to spend more time with her dog, Goose. She can watch her boyfriend play baseball, get back into shape and laugh a lot more. Justus has found herself able to focus on the future with graduation coming up soon 

“I can’t wait to start a new chapter in life,” she said, adding that she has found peace with knowing soccer is no longer part of her life. “I hope to either pursue television or land in a great public relations job.”

The Long Island Native Is Now A Legend 

Justin Scali wanted to be a Yankee.  

Like any New Yorker born and raised in Long Island, Scali found himself transfixed by the game of baseball and the New York Yankees. Scali credits his father for his drive and passion towards the game of baseball. Scali’s dad would always leave a little note pad by the bed side with a paragraph about the Yankee game.  

“He’d write me a little paragraph about what happened in the game after I went to bed, and he really instilled that passion for baseball in me,” said Scali, head coach of the Piedmont baseball team.  

Like any kid, Scali always dreamt about being on the Yankees. He wanted to play first base and pitch every fifth day. As Scali grew up, that fire was always within him. After high school, Scali found himself pitching at Methodist University. Going into his first year, Scali classified himself as a “cocky New Yorker,” and as someone who needed to be “knocked down a peg or two” and be humbled. Scali ended his career at Methodist University with a 12-7 win/loss record, pitched a total of 153.4 innings and tallied 83 strikeouts. As he progressed through his collegiate career, the seeds of coaching were planted.  

“My time playing baseball at Methodist was more like a classroom for me,” he said. “I just learned so much baseball from coach Austin, coach Peeples and coach Rasick that we had while I was there.”  

He learned a lot about the game, mostly strategy. And he lived for it. Scali loved sitting close to his coaches and listening to their conversations about the game. Listening about what moves to do, what pitch to throw, etc. — he discovered that baseball could be a part of his life even after his playing career.  

Scali is in his fifth year as the head coach of the Piedmont Lions, and currently holds a (113-62) overall record. He replicates a lot of what he learned while eavesdropping on his former coaches. But while strategy is critical to the game, Scali most loves the relationships he has formed with his players.  

“I think the most special thing I get to do throughout the year is when I get to talk to our alumni,” he said. “What that does for me is that it continues that connection that I have with our program.”  

Baseball players see the passion Scali has for them. And his selfless, fun-loving personality resonates with all around him. But it’s his baseball knowledge that most impresses fellow coaches.  

“His organization is first and foremost, the way he takes his notes and his scouting report,” said Hayden Craig, assistant coach for Piedmont baseball. “He trusts coach Harris and I to make a good plan together offensively, and I think Scali, if he wanted to, could get about any job that he wants because of what he’s done here.”  

“His attention to detail is something that I really appreciate as far as the organization of how we run things on a day-to-day basis on the field,” added assistant coach Luke Harris.  

Players recognize Scali’s talent and appreciate his mentorship. “First and foremost, he produces quality baseball teams,” said Noah Heatherly, graduate assistant for the team. “But not only that, he produces good young men. He holds us accountable.”  

Heatherly has played and coached with Scali since he took over as head coach in 2017. “I think he’s been great for Piedmont, he’s been great for the players, and personally he’s been great for me.”  

From that young kid growing up in Long Island with the dream of one day being a two-way star for the Yankees, to now being a star for Piedmont as the head coach, Justin Scali has certainly made his impact. This year Scali accumulated his 100th win as a head coach — a mark that was cherished by everyone around him. Scali was honored before one of the home games this season with a plaque that would be handed to him by this year’s seniors.  

“It was overwhelming, it certainly isn’t one person winning games,” Scali said. “But the reaction by our current players and our alumni, I was really just absolutely blown away.”  

“He lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps Piedmont baseball,” Craig said. “We are really lucky to have coach Scali.”  

“The first thing that comes to mind is leader, that’s what he is to us,” Heatherly said. “I think that he’s meant more to Piedmont baseball than even he realizes and he’s touched the lives of not only a lot of players, but a lot of parents, alumni, and faculty.”  

Scali never did become a Yankee, but at Piedmont, he has established himself as a Lion. At this point in his career, it is hard to imagine what Piedmont baseball is without coach Scali, Harris said.  

“I think that, absolutely, he optimizes what it is to be a Piedmont Lion.” 

Jessi Reed, Advocacy and “Spectrum, the Musical”

Theatre Education major Jessi Reed tackles advocacy for all on the autism spectrum through her very own show “Spectrum, the Musical.”

“This show is ultimately an advocacy piece to help shine a light on autism Spectrum Disorder and those many, amazing people who are on the spectrum,” said Jessi Reed, a senior theatre education major at Piedmont University. “People should not be labeled as their disability. That is only a part of them; it is not who they are. We all have strengths and challenges in life.”

On April 14, Reed presented her musical at the Piedmont Symposium. Inspired by her son, who has autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Reed gave a very passionate and knowledgeable presentation to her peers. As defined by the Center for Disease Control, “ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.” Reed explained her teaching process centered around her musical and how she incorporated the process of explaining autism to students into her curriculum.

“I think that my students have learned more about ASD through this experience,” said Reed. “They have had to think about the many different kinds of people who are on the spectrum. The spectrum is so wide, and people with autism can grow, change, and move to where they are on the scale.”

Reed explained how many of her students have close connections to someone who has ASD, whether it be siblings, cousins, or the student themselves. “Most of them already knew what autism Spectrum Disorder was, so that was helpful to them learning more about the disorder and the characteristics and symptoms of ASD,” said Reed. Reed taught this lesson to her advanced drama class as part of her current educational internship with White County High School. Her work has impressed her adviser.

“I really liked for the students, for the high school students, how she packaged it in terms of advocacy,” said Dr. Kathy Blandin, associate professor of theatre. “And how theatre is to educate and entertain and that education can take the form of advocacy.” 

While working with her students, Reed kept open communication between herself and the class to ensure everyone understood their work. Through discussions and class projects, Reed worked with the students on the idea of advocacy. Advocacy not only within the world of theatre but in everyday life as well. “We spent a couple days learning more about autism in-depth, watching videos about autism, and experience autism video simulations,” said Reed. “I based some of the main characters and their characteristics on real people with autism, so we watched videos about these people. One of the characters are based on my son and our story, so I told them about our personal experiences. I was surprised when these students embraced the story and the content.”

“It was a very powerful message,” said Jordan Hicks, a fellow theatre major and an attendee at Reed’s presentation. “I think advocacy is one of the most important elements of theatre as you are giving a voice to those who are being silenced. And after Jessi’s presentation, I feel as though there needs to be even more of it happening.” 

Reed plans on continuing with her process of putting on her show with her current class. However, even after Reed leaves once the semester ends, her students will continue workshopping her work and are currently considering it to be their one-act play competition piece for next year. “I’d like to do a review session with the students once this unit is over to hear what they have learned through this experience,” said Reed. “I’d also like to invite a few of my friends who are mothers of children with autism to get their feedback, as well. Any advice that people affected by autism can give will be helpful to the future development of the show.”

As Reed finished out her presentation, she left the audience with a famous saying to remember as they went about their day saying, 

 “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

2021 Piedmont Symposium: Injuries Correlation with Strength and Conditioning

DEMOREST, GA – “Adding insult to injury” is a common cliche in the English language. But it’s also the difference between proper exercise programs and unfit training for athletes worldwide. Killian McClain, a master’s student at Piedmont University and future strength and conditioning coach, presented his research regarding the relationship between conditioning and injuries at the 2021 Piedmont University Symposium.

“It’s really important to see that our profession is evidence-based, so doing this research helped reassure me that I’m doing the correct thing,” said McClain. “It was interesting to see that there wasn’t necescarily as many significant correlations that I found, which could be do to the improper programming and limited amount of programs I was able to have.”

Strength training prevents injuries and increases sports performance were the anchors that McClain based his presentation and research around. As athletes and competitors put stress on their bones and tendons, they adapt and change the anatomy of those vital systems. The transformation of these muscles can lead to imbalances within the body, directly resulting in a greater likelihood of getting injured. To prevent this unevenness, proper strength and conditioning schedules and programs are crucial. Furthermore, McClain said, Strength programming should apply to the sport, weight should rise appropriately, and muscle groups should be trained evenly.

“I was surprised that more programs didn’t have formal training plans, and those that did have plans didn’t quantify the training volume,” said Abbey Dondanville, professor of athletic training and McClain’s faculty advisor. “It’s important to track how much physical work is done to know the athletes’ acute and chronic workloads.”

Dondanville said Mclain’s research is valuable for athletes and coaches. She described that exceeding the chronic load of a workout by 15% increases the risk of injury significantly. McClain recognized this finding and performed studies on the different sports programs at Piedmont University. Tracking training helps coaches know if their programs are effective or which muscle groups need more attention.

“It is vital for sports programs to obtain a strength and conditioning program so individuals can develop as athletes and not just players at their respective sport,” says Padraig Prendergast, a Biology Major who attended McClain’s session.

Piedmont University is an increasingly growing institution; however, many of the athletic programs offered do not have strength and conditioning coaches or programs, McClain said. When schools have a program that focuses on muscle training, repetition volume can be observed to maximize the gains possessed from working out. Stronger athletes will result in better performances from the players involved, resulting in more favorable results within the games, McClain said.

McClain’s research provided valuable insight into the world of strength and condition, and he hopes the findings will catapult him into “A Division 1 institution and eventually as a head strength and conditioning coach.”

Symposium: dementia

Across the world, there are approximately 50 million people who have dementia. It is a disease with no cure, and a life where you would maybe never remember.

Freshman Marion Sloyan, Jillian Addy, and Autumn Redd presented their research, ” Dementia: a disease investigated” at the 2021 Piedmont Symposium. They went over treatments, signs and other symptoms. It started by talking about the origin of the world; the word dementia comes from Latin, meaning “without sense.” Memory loss is significantly one of the symptoms of dementia, so therefore, being without sense. Dementia is caused by the loss of nerve cells and other processes in the brain. It affects you in the hippocampus.

“Presenting about dementia was really impactful for me because it informed me about the struggles people go through with this disease,” Marion said.

Dementia can have both mental and physical effects. People can experience cognitive symptoms, so it involves your brain and other mental parts of yourself. It involves things like memory loss and slow brain functions. the other symptoms are physical changes, such as headaches, slow communication and feeling slow overall. There is mild cognitive impairment, mild dementia, moderate dementia and severe dementia.

“I could not imagine having to go through these things with people who have dementia,” Marion said.

There are many risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of suffering from dementia. The first risk factor is being 60 and up. At this age, people’s immune systems are not as strong, which increases the risk of getting any disease; you aren’t as likely to live as long with the disease. The second risk factor is if you live in a low to the middle-income area. People living in these areas can’t afford health care, and there is not as much attention given to them. The final risk factor is being a smoker. Smoking leads to atherosclerosis; a heart disease that also deals with the delivery of blood to the brain. Smoking is a major factor in dementia.

Although there is no cure for dementia; medications and therapies are provided to slow the process down. Medications include cholinesterase inhibitors, antidepressants, anxiolytics, and memantine. There are two types of therapies: reminiscence therapies, reality orientation training. There are lifestyle changes that involve staying active, good sleep, watching what you eat, and staying involved.

“These lifestyle changes are very important in my opinion because those are things we need now, especially as a student-athlete. Imagine having to change all of this, but also have a disease that could effect you so impactfully,” Marion said.

For some Piedmont students, dementia impacts them personally. “I have a family member that suffers from the disease, and I never really understood what it was or what it did to your body until now,” student Rachel Marsh said.

Dr. Julia Schmitz, associate professor of biology, said she enjoyed the presentation from Marion and the group. “I was proud to watch them develop and present on a well-researched disease.”